New exhibition will look at Jewish lawyers in Germany under the Third Reich

The cover of “Lawyers Without Rights: The Fate of Jewish Lawyers in Berlin After 1933,” published by the American Bar Association. The book is a companion to the “Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich,” exhibition, which will be in St. Louis March 8 through June 9.

The acclaimed international exhibit, “Lawyers Without Rights: Jewish Lawyers in Germany Under the Third Reich,” will be coming to St. Louis for the first time on March 8 through June 9.  The exhibit has been shown in more than 100 cities in Germany, the United States and other parts of the world. 

The local exhibition is sponsored by ADL Heartland, the Holocaust Museum & Learning Center of St. Louis, Jewish Federation of St. Louis, The Professional Society: Lawyers Division and the Law Library Association of St. Louis.

The exhibition will be housed at the Law Library Association, a public law library located in the Civil Courts Building in downtown St. Louis.  The local sponsors join with the American Bar Association and the German Federal Bar to support the exhibit.

“The Law Library Association is excited to have ‘Lawyers without Rights’ as our first exhibit ever” said Library Director Gail Wechsler. “This exhibit is very important as it addresses horrors that took place during the Holocaust that affected the livelihood, well-being and safety of every lawyer and judge of Jewish descent. Sadly the issues of anti-Semitism it showcases are still relevant today.”

The exhibit was also of interest to the late Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard Teitelman, who started discussions to bring the presentation here shortly before his death, Wechsler said. “It is an honor to be able to fulfill Judge Teitelman’s dream that the exhibit come to St. Louis.”

The idea for the exhibit was conceived in 1998 when an Israeli lawyer asked the regional bar of Berlin for a list of Jewish lawyers whose licenses had been revoked by the Nazi regime. “Some were able to leave the country after the Nazis came into power, but very many of them were incarcerated or murdered,” said Axel Filges, past president of the German Federal Bar. “The non-Jewish German lawyers of those days remained silent. They failed miserably, and so did the lawyers’ organizations. We do not know why.”    

In addition to the exhibit, which consists of panels that tell the stories and describe the respective fates of dozens of attorneys and judges of Jewish descent who had their law licenses revoked under the Third Reich, there will be several related programs scheduled during the run of the exhibit. They include a presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 8 by William Meinecke, a historian with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. 

The presentation, “Law, Justice and the Holocaust” will focus on the contribution of the judiciary to the stabilization of the Nazi German state and the implementation of the Nazis’ racial agenda. This talk is currently sold-out but those interested can call to be placed on a waiting list.

For more information about the exhibit, the related programming and for a complete donor list, go to https://llastl.org/events-exhibits. You also can contact Wechsler at 314-622-4470 or [email protected]